Starting a new fitness and nutrition program can become very overwhelming, very fast. Change can be challenging. And expecting immediate results doesn't make things easier. We've become conditioned to seek instant gratification and it can become hard to resist the urge to try all the new trending diets. But, often times, the more new things we try, the more confused and frustrated we get, and the easier it is to throw the towel in.
The #1 reason people flounder with their body goals is because they don't have a strong nutrition foundation built and they try to take on too many complicated things at once.
If the foundation is weak, the house will collapse under high winds and hail storms. But if the foundation is strong, you can make additions over time and it will withstand the environment for a lifetime. Your body and mind work the same way.
The jump from minimal care and knowledge of what you are putting in your body to suddenly cutting out carbs, eating made up super foods, and fasting, usually results in a mental collapse and those new ways of eating don't stick around very long. You have to have a strong foundation before taking more advanced steps. And usually those steps or 'diets' are never even necessary.
Healthy eating can be simple and keeping it easy is the ticket to making it a natural part of your lifestyle. The place to start? Check for cracks, i.e. nutritional deficiencies, in your foundation. The average western diet and lifestyle leads to many common nutritional deficiencies. By addressing water, vegetable portions, protein consumption, and omega-3 intake, you will immediately feel better and will see results in the first few weeks without making drastic changes.
Regardless of how many times people have heard the importance of water and maybe even think they're drinking enough, it's estimated that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. This means that 3 in every 4 persons is functioning in a less than optimal state.
The adult body is made up of about 60% water and every single system within the body depends on water. Even mild dehydration can affect our mood and ability to concentrate, can cause fatigue, constipation, muscle aches and cramping, as well as headaches. The longer these symptoms are experienced, the easier it is to write them off as normal. A lot of people go so long in a dehydrated state that they don't realize that they could feel so much better and work stronger during the day if they just drank more.
Dehydration also impacts fat loss. The mind often confuses thirst for hunger, so dehydration can directly cause over eating. These false hunger cues diminish greatly with extra water. Dehydration can also be a confusing devil skewing progress. It can be very maddening to step on the scale after a few weeks of perfect portions only to see the numbers slowly creeping up. When you are in a dehydrated state, the body will do everything it can to hold on to the water you do give it to keep all systems firing. Those numbers on the scale might just be water weight. The trick? Drink more water, so your body doesn't need to hold on to it so tightly!
Start by taking note of how much water you are currently drinking. If you never pay attention, this is the place to start! Figure out how roughly how many ounces your cup or water bottle holds. On a sticky note, make a tally each time you finish a glass. Do this for a week and calculate your average.
We recommend drinking half your body weight (pounds) in ounces of water per day. Slowly increase on a weekly basis by about 16 ounces per day until you hit that goal.
Eat Your Vegetables
The Majority of Americans are deficient in a few or more vitamins and minerals. The best place to get them is from vegetables and fruits.
When you don't eat enough produce, there are many things that can go wrong. You may experience lowered energy levels, depression, brittle hair and nails, constipation, and blood sugar regulation issues, to name a few. Over time, vitamin and mineral deficiencies can lead to chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Take a close look at your daily and weekly food habits, how many servings of vegetables are you eating per day? Be honest here! A lot of people think they eat more veggies than they really do. It's recommended that Men intake about 6 fist sized servings of vegetables per day minimum and Women, 3-4 fist sized servings.
If you aren't meeting these requirements, it's time to step it up. A lot of vitamin and mineral deficiencies can easily be reversed by upping your fruits and veggies- things like berries and green veggies are loaded with nutrients. Fruits and vegetables are also packed with fiber, which will keep you fuller longer, helping you to control your hunger levels and reach your fat loss goals with more ease.
If you're a picky eater or have gone a long time without your greens, you may consider adding a multi-vitamin to your daily routine.
Up Your Protein Intake
Protein is another important variable to focus on increasing for fat loss. Because the average western diet is high in processed junk, sugar, carbohydrates, and fats, protein is often under consumed. Protein deficiencies can cause fatigue as well as a sluggish metabolism. Gone unchecked, the body will start to break down it's own muscle to utilize amino acids to carry out all of the important processes at the cellular level. You don't want this to happen!
It's recommended that Men intake 1-2 palm sized portions of protein rich foods at every meal and Women consume 1 palm sized portion.
The good news is, much like high fiber fruits and vegetables, high protein foods, such as lean meats like chicken, turkey, and fish, will also keep you fuller longer to prevent over eating.
More Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids provide a host of benefits to the body, however, most American diets are severely lacking. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids, meaning the body can't produce them on it's own, so you must consume them in order to maintain optimal wellness.
Both Omega-3's and omega-6's are important to function properly and prevent disease, however omega-6's are much more abundant in the typical American diet, so much so that it's normal to see a 20:1 ration of omega 6's to omega 3's. To keep inflammation low, the body needs a 1:1 ratio, so upping your 3's will go a long way to your overall health and ultimately fat loss.
Consuming more foods rich in Omega-3's, such as fatty fishes, like salmon, walnuts, flax seeds, and chia seeds, will provide a range of benefits from increased mood and focus, weight loss, reduce symptoms of arthritis and joint pain, and prevent heart disease.
If you don't regularly (daily) consume the above foods, consider taking an Omega-3 fish oil supplement to ensure you are functioning at your best.
Build your foundation first
Start with the basics of hydration, vegetables, protein, and omega-3's before taking on anything else in the wellness department. Baby steps are the best steps when building your strong foundation. Drink half your body weight in water, eat 3-5 fist sized servings of vegetables, 1 palm of protein with each meal, and add in some omega 3's every day. You'll feel better pretty quickly and have more energy to do all the awesome things you love to do. And chances are, you'll start to lose fat by making sure your body has the things it needs to become a burning machine.